Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Camphor, (1) a group of pungent aromatic substances, stearoptenes of essential oils, which are tough, waxy, colourless, translucent, with a specific gravity nearly that of water, readily volatilising at moderate heat, slightly soluble in water, but completely so in alcohol or ether. They are closely related chemically to the turpentines, with which they frequently occur in plants, and from which they may be prepared. Most of the camphor of European commerce is distilled as a crystalline sublimate from the wood of Camphora officinarum, a lauraceous tree found mainly in the island of Formosa. It is imported to the extent of some 700 tons annually, mainly from Singapore. Ngai camphor, the produce of Blumea grandis and B. balsamifera, natives of Tenasserim, is used in China in making ink. Borneo, Malay or Sumatra camphor, shipped from Barus, and hence known as Kapur Barus, sometimes also called Bamboo camphor from being packed in bamboos, is Borneol, the produce of Dryobalanops aromatica, and is so highly prized by the Chinese that it does not reach Europe. Menthol, or Mentha Camphor, occurs in oil of peppermint. It forms colourless crystals, with an odour resembling that of its source. Other varieties of camphors are found in different volatile oils, as the oils of absinthe, galbanum, cajuput, etc., all resembling ordinary camphor in most of their properties. Camphor is a popular preventive during epidemics, and is very useful in preserving clothes, furs, and natural history specimens generally, from moths and other insects.